Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sun on Stones
"We must go and see The Pilgrims at Emmaus together. Why was I talking about the picture? To throw some light on this idea of testimony of mine. The pilgrims in the inn are witnesses to a great event, a presence, as yet hidden from the rest of the world. They will have to testify to it together. Even if they had not known each other before, they would become great friends. According to my idea, it's always rather in that way that you make friends with anybody. You are present together at a moment in the life of the world, perhaps in the presence of a fleeting secret of the world--an apparition which nobody has ever seen before and perhaps nobody will ever see again.
"It may even be something very little. Take two men going for a walk, for example, like us. Suddenly, thanks to a break in the clouds, a ray of light come and strikes the top of a wall; and the top of the wall becomes, for the moment, something in some way quite extraordinary. One of the two men touches the other on the shoulder. The other raises his head and sees it too, understands it too. Then the thing up there vanishes. But they will know in aeternam that it once existed."
"You think that friendship depends on something like that?"
"Depends on it--perhaps not. Springs from it. I've just taken a case where the then to be attested to is the humblest kind of thing. The Pilgrims is the supreme example. And that's why, too, you have so little time to make even a small number of friends--friends whom you may lose, but whom you can never replace."
"I don't quite see the connection."
"It's quite clear. Even supposeing that in the whole of our lives we have a chance like that at Emmaus--I mean the chance of stumbling upon an extraordinary presence, which deserves to be attested to in aeternam--at what age shall we have it, old man?"
"That suggests that it's very exciting to be the age we are now and to have the next few years before us..."
"It is indeed."
"But you were saying something about love...Dont you agree that there's something similar to the case of love?"
"You mean love that is love and something else--when friendship doesn't come in as well? Love is so much more bound up in itself, born of itself, so much more shut up. Lovers turn toward one another. Friends turn to something which is neither of them."
--from Quinette's Crime, Jules Romains.
photo file from abc gallery. Original, Rembrandt, at the Louvre